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Australian state parliament to vote on new IVF and surrogacy laws

16 September 2008

By Antony Blackburn-Starza

Appeared in BioNews 475

The Victorian Parliament in Australia will soon decide to update the states laws on IVF and surrogacy when proposed new legislation is put to a conscience vote. If passed, the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill 2008 will improve access to assisted reproductive technologies in Victoria by removing the requirement that women need to be clinically infertile to be eligible for IVF. Such a reform will enable women who wish to become surrogate mothers to gain access to IVF, who at present - despite altruistic surrogacy being legal - find it difficult to receive the required intervention.

The reform comes after a four-year review conducted by the Victorian Law Reform Commission in to the current artificial reproductive technology (ART) laws in Victoria contained in the Infertility Treatment Act, which the new bill will repeal. 'This is about updating our laws, bringing them into the 21st century but ensuring that the interests of children born of these arrangements are absolutely paramount,' said the Attorney-General, Rob Hulls. It will also mean Victorian laws meet federal discrimination legislation by ensuring all women have equal access to fertility treatment, including lesbians and single parents.

Communications Minister, Senator Conroy, said that the bill will also grant greater rights to the non-biological parents of children born through surrogacy arrangements. He cited examples of restrictions on national and overseas travel and school intake to illustrate the difficulties non-biological parents face without full legal rights. The Attorney-General told reporters: 'What we don't want to create in Victoria is two pairs of rights for children, we think all children should be treated appropriately, with the same rights'. Two further bills, one prohibiting human cloning and one on embryo research will also be introduced to Parliament.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Australia plans for the opening of a new private fertility clinic catering for the rich has been announced. The Cairns Fertility Clinic will provide fertility treatment in a holiday resort setting, where patients can rent apartments for the duration of the treatment. The center's financial direct Doug Yek said the 'IVF resort' will act as a one-stop shop for politicians and sports stars who wish to retain their privacy.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
ABC News | 09 September 2008
 
The Melbourne Age | 10 September 2008
 
The Herald Sun | 09 September 2008
 
Herald Sun | 10 September 2008
 

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